I posted the entire article here because if I posted the link I know some of you would not take the time to click the link and read the article Time For Fans To Aid In PMAC Construction By Scott McKay (Purple and Gold) February 10, 2004 Not enough Tiger fans were in the building for Saturday’s 65-52 victory over Arkansas. But those who did make the trip to the arena were treated to a construction project both inside and outside. The roof of the building, a sore spot for the last several years due to its state of disrepair, is being completely replaced at present. It should have been finished by now, but of course that was a state project – and we all know what that means. As a result, construction crews are working during the season to replace the roof now, and it ought to be completed sometime this spring. In July, the LSU athletic department finally takes over the management of the facility, which will mean the PMAC will get a more comprehensive refurbishment to make it a place more conducive to large crowds and big-time atmosphere. But in advance of that time, the real construction project of interest is going on inside the building, not on the roof. John Brady’s young Tigers are beginning to hit their stride, running their current win streak to four games with the Arkansas win. That game came on the heels of an 84-67 trouncing of Tennessee on Wednesday, which had been the Tigers’ most impressive performance all season. In case you haven’t noticed, the Tigers are 16-4 overall and 6-3 in SEC play. They’re in the top 20 of the college RPI ratings, meaning if the NCAA Tournament field was to be selected now instead of March LSU would be probably a No. 5 or No. 6 seed. And yet the most successful team in the last decade of LSU Basketball save for the 2000 SEC Champion/NCAA Sweet 16 club is drawing only six or seven thousand actual fans. It simply doesn’t make sense. It’s been said time and time again by some who make excuses for poor attendance at basketball games that LSU is a football school. Maybe that’s true; certainly LSU football has an atmosphere to match or exceed any in organized sports. But how, then, does one explain the fact that LSU Baseball outdraws any other college in the country by a mile? How can baseball thrive at a football school where basketball doesn’t? Some of the attitudes out there toward this issue are even more perplexing. “I lost my love for basketball when Dale Brown ran the program into the ground,” is one statement I’ve heard again and again. That one I can’t understand. Mike Archer and Curley Hallman did a number on LSU football far, far worse than what Brown did to Tiger hoops in the 1990’s, but the fans came back to Tiger Stadium in droves for a 4-7 coach from Vanderbilt. And when the 4-7 coach from Vanderbilt ultimately drove LSU football down to Vanderbilt’s level after three decent seasons, the fans came back in droves for the next coach. So why, seven years after Brown left LSU, is there such soft support for basketball? Obviously, this program isn’t in the finished stages of development that Nick Saban’s football program or Smoke Laval’s baseball program is, but it’s competitive at a high level. LSU is nearly a lock to be in the NCAA Tournament this year, which would make two in a row and three out of five years with an NIT bid in one of the others. That’s success, by any measure. It’s not like there haven’t been high points, and LSU basketball hasn’t been a miserable experience for those who have been attending games in the last few years. Besides, when you’re 16-4 you’re as good as anybody could ask you to be. The detractors can whine about how lousy the non-conference schedule was, but LSU ranks 33rd nationally in strength of schedule this season. At least four of the 11 teams the Tigers played out of conference (UAB, Utah, Troy State and Centenary) look like decent bets to finish first in their conferences and four others (Southern Miss, Southern, Houston and UL-Monroe) are competitive enough within their leagues that it’s not inconceivable they could make a run to the Show from their conference tournaments. I personally think some work to “sex up” the non-conference schedule could be done, but Brady would correctly point out that last year when No. 1 Arizona came to the PMAC and was upset by the Tigers there were less than 10,000 fans in the building. What’s the answer? Probably marketing, for one thing. Traditionally, LSU tends to reserve its marketing resources for the Olympic sports, with the thinking being that revenue sports like football, basketball and baseball don’t really need the help. But that approach really needs to be tweaked. When a team completes a four-game win streak and goes to 16-4 overall and 6-3 in the SEC against a traditional division rival where there’s a recent history of bad blood between the teams, and yet the arena is barely half full, you’ve got some slack to take up. The Tigers don’t play this week until Saturday, when they’re on the road at Florida. Brady’s club doesn’t play in the PMAC again until Feb. 18, when Auburn comes to town. After that, they’ve only got a pair of home games left – Feb. 29 against Kentucky and March 3 against Ole Miss. I think it would be a TREMENDOUSLY smart idea for the athletic department to take the next week or so and do some advertising in support of ticket sales for basketball. All three of those games should be sellouts, particularly if the Tigers can pick off one of the road games against Florida, Vanderbilt or Mississippi State in the next four contests. The PMAC ought to be one of the most rowdy, loud and intimidating arenas in the SEC. The team is good enough to support such an atmosphere this year and LSU has the fans to do it. And even though I questioned the program’s direction earlier this season when the Tigers went through a bad patch and a three-game losing streak, it’s always been a no-brainer that the future of LSU basketball is a bright one with Glen Davis and probably Tasmin Mitchell coming into the program over the next couple of years. I missed the action Saturday night, but I’m told the show Davis, Mitchell and Garrett Temple put on in University High’s 70-40 whipping of Denham Springs at the Centroplex was a special one. Davis, whose status as one of the top 20 high school recruits in the nation hasn’t changed, put up 31 points and 16 rebounds, while Temple added 24 for U-High. Mitchell, whose team was totally outmanned, still poured in 23 points and added 11 rebounds in the game. Perhaps Davis and Mitchell will help the attendance issue. They’re both local players, as are Brandon Bass and Darnell Lazare, and as are Temple, Spencer Ford and Kentrell Gransberry, signees or commitments who will be joining this program in the next year or two. Davis and Mitchell also bring the “star” issue to the table, which is crucial to getting the casual fans off their couches and into the arena. It’s amazing how star players seem to matter more to these people than winning, and perhaps that’s partly the legacy of Dale Brown. Talk to “casual” or “bandwagon” LSU basketball fans, and what you’ll get is a wistful remembrance of Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Jackson, John Williams, Pete Maravich and so on. Forget about the fact that the team LSU has right now would probably beat most of those “star-studded” but underachieving clubs Brown had in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, and forget about the fact that Brown’s best team was the one in 1981 in which the star power was split evenly among Rudy Macklin, Ethan Martin, Howard Carter and Greg Cook. Apparently, that doesn’t matter. They want to see somebody score 40 points in a game, whether LSU wins or not. LSU does have a star on this year’s team. Jaime Lloreda doesn’t radiate stardom the way O’Neal or even Stromile Swift did, but he gives star production. Lloreda is good for a double-double just about every night, and he’s largely unstoppable around the basket. He’s beyond that stretch earlier in the season when he was playing lazy; lately, Lloreda’s intensity has been terrific and he’s regained his zest for the open floor. But Lloreda doesn’t dunk a lot and he doesn’t bury 25-footers, so his game isn’t flashy enough to sell tickets to the bandwaggoners. Brandon Bass is a star in the making as well. Darrel Mitchell is another player who will be remembered in those terms before he’s through; Mitchell sometimes reminds me of a quicker version of Derrick Taylor. So far, neither one is selling tickets yet. Time - and continued winning - might change that. Does this team score as much as you’d like? No. They play a style of basketball which often looks like Big East or Big 10 ball; games in the 50’s and 60’s, physical, smash-mouth basketball predicated on defense and rebounding, and often their half-court offense just doesn’t look right. But they’re gutting out victories one after another now, and they’re a winner. So I don’t want to hear any more excuses about lousy attendance at basketball games, and I don’t want to see less than 12,000 fans in the seats when Auburn comes to town a week and a half from now. They’re fixing the roof at the PMAC and the team is building itself into a factor in the NCAA Tournament. It’s time to start building crowds in the place as well.